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Global Travel Taskforce could kickstart global Britain – if ministers get a grip on Border Force

Global Travel Taskforce could kickstart global Britain – if ministers get a grip on Border Force
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Written by Harry Johnson

UK ministers must get a grip of Border Force’s performance so that visitors get a warm welcome to Britain, not a 6 hour queue

  • Monthly passenger numbers are the lowest since 1966, due to the ban on all but essential travel
  • The CAA has acknowledged that Heathrow’s regulatory settlement needs to be adjusted
  • The biggest single concern is the ability of Border Force to be able to cope with additional passenger numbers, given recent unacceptable queue times

UK monthly passenger numbers fell below 500,000, the lowest since 1966, due to the ban on all but essential travel, blanket quarantine, pre-departure and post-arrival testing.

Limits on passenger flights, which normally carry freight, mean cargo volumes remain 30% down on an annual basis, while EU rivals including Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Schiphol airports returned to pre-Covid cargo tonnage levels.

Heathrow is working with the PM’s Global Travel Taskforce to facilitate the safe restart of international travel after 17th May. The aim should be to simplify and standardise the checks that are required, with a goal of returning to travel as it used to be.

Heathrow is now preparing to restart operations safely, working with all companies across the airport. Its biggest single concern is the ability of Border Force to be able to cope with additional passenger numbers, given recent unacceptable queue times.

The CAA has acknowledged that Heathrow’s regulatory settlement needs to be adjusted and we expect a decision in the coming weeks. An adjustment which will help keep prices.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye said: “Aviation has always led the UK economy out of recession, and we will do so again. The PM’s Global Travel Taskforce can lead the way on reopening international travel and trade safely – but ministers must get a grip of Border Force’s performance so that visitors get a warm welcome to Britain, not a 6 hour queue.”

Traffic Summary

February 2021 
Terminal Passengers
(000s)
Feb 2021% ChangeJan to
Feb 2021
% ChangeMar 2020 to
Feb 2021
% Change
Market      
UK51-85.4108-84.7861-82.4
EU118-93.5305-91.84,650-83.1
Non-EU Europe37-91.279-90.91,000-82.5
Africa55-80.4130-78.1683-80.6
North America43-96.3129-94.81,485-92.2
Latin America5-95.515-93.0226-83.5
Middle East57-90.3190-85.01,387-82.3
Asia / Pacific95-86.4182-89.21,415-87.4
Total461-91.51,139-90.111,707-85.6
Air Transport MovementsFeb 2021% ChangeJan to
Feb 2021
% ChangeMar 2020 to
Feb 2021
% Change
Market      
UK601-80.91,389-78.99,968-76.2
EU1,581-89.54,098-86.755,502-73.4
Non-EU Europe436-87.51,062-85.110,867-75.1
Africa523-57.51,148-55.16,049-60.2
North America2,007-67.33,964-69.025,879-69.1
Latin America87-81.2224-76.62,227-62.6
Middle East958-61.32,281-55.413,805-55.1
Asia / Pacific1,560-51.43,179-55.420,592-55.9
Total7,753-77.917,345-76.3144,889-69.6
Cargo
(Metric Tonnes)
Feb 2021% ChangeJan to
Feb 2021
% ChangeMar 2020 to
Feb 2021
% Change
Market      
UK4012.147-49.7197-65.7
EU9,99260.417,82939.081,100-12.6
Non-EU Europe5,963104.211,24378.350,993-5.6
Africa7,5001.314,5553.769,703-24.4
North America33,245-30.460,993-32.5357,324-36.0
Latin America1,149-67.11,871-74.828,216-47.0
Middle East15,970-21.034,397-14.1205,997-20.7
Asia / Pacific27,196-2.251,586-15.1308,496-31.9
Total101,055-12.8192,521-16.91,102,028-29.5